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Erik’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. It has been created to keep friends and family updated about Erik's fight with Malignant Metastatic Melanoma.

Erik and Cathleen will keep this site updated whenever we have news about Erik's prognosis as well as how we are doing in our daily lives.

Well, we all dread the day we that we may walk into the doctor's office and be diagnosed with cancer. Well, that day happened to me on 02-22-08. Since this happened so fast and things have moved so fast in the past few weeks, I thought I would write a chronicle of events to get everyone up to speed and also, to get an idea of what I am going through. Further, this may help to save my voice of repeating the same story over and over, which I do not mind but the internet sure can be handy:)

After having four doctors tell me that the lump on my left neck was just a lymph node fighting off infections, I had enough. I knew something was wrong with me; I just wasn't sure where to go.

The tumor grew from a pea size around 10-10-07 to about a quarter size by 1-20-08. I came down with strep and went to the doctor in my medical group who I normally do not see. She felt around my neck and said, "My God, what is this?!" I said I had four doctors in the past four months tell me it was just a swollen gland. She immediately sent me to an excellent ENT on February 15. He, too, said it was probably nothing and wanted to wait and see if it changed over the next few months. I insisted on a biopsy because I had told him it had already changed in size. He agreed to do the short, but painful procedure.

On February 22, I was at my job selling home alarm systems 100 miles away from his office when his office called and told me to come in immediately and it can't be discussed over the phone! I knew it was cancer but the only cancer I could think of was lymphoma. I never though it would be melanoma since it usually appears on the skin. Also, I get checked every six months because my mom had it, I am butt white with blue eyes and have over 100 moles. They are small and not hairy but a wicked combo for skin cancer.

The ENT doctor told me I have Malignant Melanoma. Within 10 minutes the shock wore off but my legs wouldn't stop shaking for a good hour. The doctor was very kind and worked with me through this life altering moment we all dread. Then, I said, well what do we do now? He said he would call some specialists over the weekend, set up PET SCAN, MRI and he would call by Sunday night at the latest. We heard nothing, so Monday morning was business as usual; getting Evan ready for day care, Cathleen and I getting dressed for work at 6:00 AM. We were just about to head out to work and at 7:10 AM my ENT called and asked if I have had anything to eat. I said no. He said great and said he spoke to his specialists over the weekend and they recommended that the cancerous tumor on my neck be removed immediately!! I said WHAT! I called my parents at 4:00 AM in CA and they along with my wife said go through with the major surgery. Step into my shoes for a moment. I had never had surgery, let alone major surgery, I had 20 minutes to decide, and I was scared. I looked at my son, Evan and said let's do it. It is amazing how a 19 month old can give you so much courage! I called him back and I said I would be right over to the OR. He successfully removed the lump and two days later we were told it was a lymph node, which classifies my melanoma as Stage III malignant metastatic melanoma. The good news was that it had not completely engulfed the lymph node which means there is a 25% chance it is only in that lymph node. I will probably need another major surgery in the next week; whereby they take all the tissue and the 50 + other lymph nodes out and make sure they get all the cancer. There is a 15% or less chance it has attached to my organs and brain which would put me at stage 4 cancer. We should have all the results by 3-7-07 or 3-10-07. Once we rule out Stage IV, then we can start taking appropriate steps to attack this malignancy.

Thank you for all of your support!

Erik, Cathleen and Evan
919-522-2479 (Erik cell)
919-349-7723 (Cathleen cell)

Latest Journal Update


Hi Everybody –

Sorry for the long silence, I realize that many months have passed since I last provided an update. The spring brought warmer weather and an opportunity to get outside again. We took a trip to Florida in April and a trip to California in early June. Now that summer is upon us, we’ve started looking for some indoor activities too (it has been very hot lately!!!).

Evan continues to grow and is still quite a character. He will turn 4 next month and is so excited to be another year older. We are doing our best to take life one day at a time. Life is very different than it was a few short years ago and adjusting to this new reality has been challenging but we are doing well. We’ve met new friends and are exploring the area.  This week was difficult for Evan because the theme for the week at school was Father’s Day. I spoke to his teacher at the beginning of the week and found out that one of the planned activities was making Father’s day cards. Today, thanks to an idea from another young widow, we are going to attach Evan’s Father’s day card to a balloon and release it to the sky.

Also, I wanted to ‘kick-off’ a project and gift that I am so grateful to have received. A few months ago, Brent and Denise Smith contacted me with an incredibly generous offer to create a memory book of Erik for Evan and me.

So, in honor of Father’s Day -- I am asking for your help to make this idea a reality.

I would like to ask each of you share any memories you have of Erik. I am quite sure there are stories I’ve never heard and lots of stories that Evan will treasure as he grows, stories that neither of us might hear if you don’t share them. If you have pictures – please send those too. Brent and Denise will take all of your stories, letters and pictures and put them into a memory book(s) for me and Evan so we can open that book whenever we are missing Erik or we just need a heartfelt pick-me-up moment. I know for Evan it will help to provide him with information about who his Dad was, what he enjoyed, what he stood for, what he believed as well as some of the mischief he was a part of. It will be a link to Erik’s past that might otherwise be lost. Any story is fine – from childhood, soccer, high school and college or his adult life – the hope is to capture stories from all parts of his life.

If you have a story/memory/photo to share, please mail them to:

The Smith’s
2830 Canwick Lane
Brentwood, Ca. 94513

Or e-mail them to:

Thank you all for the ongoing support and Happy Father’s Day to all the men!

Much love,